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  • Overview
  • Apr '24
    Research paper: Climate concern increases following major protests/civil disobedience
  • Mar '24
    Grantham Institute survey: What benefits do people think climate policies will bring?
  • Feb '24
    Survey: Three quarters of the public are worried about the impact of climate change on their bills
  • Redfield & Wilton polling: Labour & Conservative voters think climate change not being taken seriously enough
  • ECIU polling: more voters had heard about Labour’s green investment ‘U-turn’ than the policy itself
  • Global study shows climate perception gaps are prevalent around the world
  • YouGov polling: Labour voters see government U-turns as a bad sign
  • Jan '24
    Survey: Knowing someone with a heat pump increases support
  • Differences in support for oil and gas track political divides
  • Research paper: Reducing inequality makes behaviour change for net zero more achievable
  • Nov '23
    Ipsos MORI polling ahead of COP28 shows limited public confidence that conference commitments will lead to climate action
  • Conservative Environment Network polling: Widespread support for local green energy development
  • Oct '23
    Public First polling: Delays to net zero make a party less electable
  • What explains the drop in Welsh support for 20mph speed limits, shortly after their introduction?
  • Climate Citizens report: MPs underestimate the importance of the environment for voters
  • Scrapping, banning or delaying? Why question wording matters for understanding opinion on net zero
  • Polling during Labour Party conference: There is support for removing fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2030
  • New research: What personal climate actions are British people of colour undertaking?
  • Report: How people of colour experience climate change in Britain
  • Public First: UK public backs a move towards energy independence.
  • Sep '23
    Onward league table shows which net zero policies are popular among voters
  • Onward polling: Voters rank green policies as the least likely reason for cost of living crisis
  • YouGov: There is a generational divide in support for more oil and gas extraction
  • Greenpeace polling: Climate will influence the next election in Blue Wall constituencies
  • Public First: Sunak’s Net Zero speech may scarcely cut through to voters
  • Ipsos polling: Renewable energy infrastructure is a priority for Britons
  • Greenpeace polling: Blue Wall constituents want subsidies for net zero policies (and will vote on climate)
  • More in Common: Most voters think the government is doing too little on climate
  • ECIU poll: net zero policy rollback viewed as ‘untrustworthy’ by most; ‘sensible’ by some
  • Support for a loophole-free windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies sits at nearly 90%
  • Government opinion tracker shows levels of climate concern remain high in 2023
  • More in Common polling: Few Britons want the government to do less to reach net zero
  • Is there a split between ‘motorists’ and ‘non motorists’ on transport policies?
  • Do people think net zero will be expensive, or can the costs fall fairly?
  • Opinium polling: A third of young people seek counselling and medical help for eco-anxiety
  • Aug '23
    Progressive Policy Institute report: working class voters’ views on climate policies
  • Ipsos polling: Voters have an appetite for helping the environment alongside concerns about affordability
  • Conservative Party members oppose LTNs and the phase out of petrol/diesel cars
  • Jul '23
    Desmog polling: Voters tend to support ULEZ-style policies, when it is made clear only a minority of vehicles are affected
  • International comparison: UK support for net zero policies
  • YouGov poll shows support outweighs opposition for lowering urban speed limits from 30 to 20mph
  • Onward report: Local benefits increase rural support for renewable energy projects
  • May '23
    SNP voters back a ‘rapid’ move away from oil and gas – but are more evenly split on new exploration
  • YouGov tracker: Public consistently in favour of government subsidies for solar development
  • Mar '23
    Most Britons want their area to become a 15 minute neighbourhood
  • Dec '22
    Video clip testing: Voters are more likely to support Labour when they hear them talking about climate change
  • Red Cross polling: UK public unaware of flood risks and what actions to take
  • Nov '22
    Ahead of COP27, UK public sceptical that the conference would speed up climate action
  • COP27 polling: Few see Rishi Sunak as showing leadership, but most support climate funds for poorer nations
  • Ipsos MORI polling: Britons want subsidies on environmentally friendly tech (but few want higher taxes on non-renewable energy sources)
  • Oct '22
    ONS survey shows high level of worries about climate change in 2022
  • YouGov tracker: Wind power continues to be the most popular form of energy generation
  • Jul '22
    IPPR narrative testing: Messages about impacts are one of the most persuasive arguments for action on climate change
  • Jan '22
    Climate Emotions Wheel shows the range of climate emotions
  • Dec '21
    Research paper: Emotions as drivers of climate change opinions and actions
  • Large scale survey of young people across 10 countries shows majority are worried and feel the future is frightening
  • Nov '21
    Ahead of COP26, Loyal Nationals express scepticism around around international cooperation
  • Oct '21
    Global Scan polling: Most Britons want global leadership by the government on climate
  • Development Engagement Lab: Britons have greater awareness of COP26 than other countries
  • Jun '21
    Britain Talks Climate – which segments are engaging in behaviour change?
  • Dec '20
    Research paper: Our climate actions can shape how we feel
  • Oct '20
    Britain Talks Climate: climate change concerns us all, regardless of income, background or politics
  • Research paper: Feeling empowered and able to make a difference is key to engagement on adaptation
  • Mar '20
    Cardiff University polling: concern about heat risks has increased over the past decade but floods still top the risk table
  • Nov '19
    Report: Vulnerable people don’t feel they are at risk from heat
  • May '19
    Poll reveals MP misperceptions over onshore wind
Content Type

Opinion Insight

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    Opinion Insight 8th April 2024

    Research paper: Climate concern increases following major protests/civil disobedience

    In an open access paper published in the journal Nature Communications, a large sample of the German public (more than 24,000 people) was surveyed before and just after major climate protests/civil disobedience took place.

    Following what the authors describe as ‘confrontational’ protest acts, levels of reported concern about climate change rose by just over 1% (not a huge number, but a meaningful uptick nonetheless with a sample of this size and given the high level of pre-existing concern in Germany).

    Interestingly, there was no sign of political polarisation either. And although the political context in Germany differs in a range of ways to the UK, the study offers direct evidence that significant protests do ‘cut through’ in terms of national public opinion. This is not always easy to demonstrate without his form of ‘before and after’ study design.

    In another new open access paper on a similar topic, researchers asked US participants in an online experiment to give their views on a range of civil disobedience tactics. They concluded:

    Most Americans view climate-related NVCD as appropriate if it is non-violent and targeted towards those companies or entities which are responsible for taking actions to the detriment of the climate. This could be in the form of promoting fossil fuel use, or even accepting fossil fuel financing. Conversely, actions that are violent, or targeted at entities not seen as being responsible for exacerbating climate change are seen as inappropriate targets.

    Gradually, the evidence base on how contemporary protest tactics are actually landing with members of the public is building. Studies like these are important for checking assumptions about the way in which people react to protests involving civil disobedience.

    Concern levels are likely to temporarily tick upwards when protests capture the media spotlight, even if the elite commentary that gets the most bandwidth is high critical of demonstrations. But the more that protests can do to focus in on ‘valid’ or ‘legitimate’ targets, the higher the chance of bringing the wider public along.

    Opinion Insight 14th March 2024

    Grantham Institute survey: What benefits do people think climate policies will bring?

    Policies to cut carbon can bring a range of ‘co-benefits’. From cleaner air, to warmer homes, to the prospect of green jobs, these co-benefits have often been advocated as a way to build support for net zero among people who may be more interested in these side-effects of climate policies than net zero itself.

    In a new survey led by Neil Jennings at the Grantham Institute (Imperial College London), just over 1000 people were asked to assess nine different potential co-benefits of action on climate change.

    The top response was ‘homes that are more affordable to heat’. This was chosen as the most important benefit for individuals, for communities, and for the country as a whole. It was also supported by voters of all parties. In the context of the eyewatering cost of energy over the past two years, cheaper heating bills were a universally popular co-benefit of action on climate change.

    Another popular response was ‘improved energy security’. This makes a lot of sense, given that the rise in energy prices over the past two years was driven by a spike in the price of imported gas in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And there’s growing evidence that renewables as a route to a more secure, homegrown energy system is a popular proposition across the political spectrum.

    Interestingly, there was much less support for the idea that climate policies could be drivers of job creation. The prospect of green jobs has routinely been used by campaigners and politicians alike to build support for net zero. But this survey – backed by wider research – suggests that claims about green jobs may not land as well as is assumed.

    But the survey makes it clear there’s work to do to persuade the public that even the most popular co-benefits are feasible in practice, with fewer people agreeing they’re practically achievable than identifying them as desirable in the first place.

    The problem here isn’t a lack of positivity towards job creation, its the level of trust in the government to deliver them. Whether its warmer homes, energy security, or new green jobs, practical and tangible examples of climate policies actually delivering the benefits people want to see play a crucial role.

    Climate policies really can deliver a whole host of positives. But when it comes to persuading the public of net zero co-benefits, seeing is believing.

    • Source: Imperial College London
    • Authors: Dr Neil Jennings, Dr Pauline Paterson, Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh, Dr Candice Howarth
    • Date: 6th March 2024
    Opinion Insight 21st February 2024

    Survey: Three quarters of the public are worried about the impact of climate change on their bills

    In a survey of 2000 people carried out by Opinium, on behalf of Positive Money, 75% of UK adults were concerned about the impact of climate change on the cost of heating or cooling their home, while 69% were worried about the impact of grocery prices, 54% on the price of housing or rent, 74% on electricity costs, 68% on the cost of water and 59% on transport costs.

    These concerns about ‘climateflation’ show that the perceived impacts of climate change are not confined to changes in the weather (although these are becoming more noticeable to people too).

    Climate Barometer data backs this up – concern about the impact of climate change on household bills was the third most common choice behind ‘harm to nature and wildlife’ and ‘suffering and hardship for the world’s poorest’.

    Separate analysis investigating the cost of ‘not zero‘ (i.e. not pursuing net zero goals fast enough) by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) supports people’s concerns: households really are facing higher bills because of a lack of action on climate change. Their calculations reveal that cumulative savings of £70bn on the UK’s energy bill could have been made had investments happened over past decade.

    The Positive Money report emphasises that these climate-linked costs are disproportionately felt by lower income households.

    Opinion Insight 21st February 2024

    Redfield & Wilton polling: Labour & Conservative voters think climate change not being taken seriously enough

    In the past 6 months, both the Conservatives and Labour have reduced their green policy ambitions. First, the Conservatives announced delays to some near-term net zero targets. more recently, Labour said it would no longer be investing £28 billion per year into green projects. Across this period, polls have indicated that voters expect leadership from politicians on climate change, and want more (rather than less) action on climate.

    New polling from Redfield & Wilton (in the wake of these announcements) asked voters for the two main parties to select between a number of competing statements, across a range of topics.

    Conservative voters are more likely to believe that the threat of climate change is not being taken seriously (66%) than they are to believe that the threat of climate change to the UK has been overstated (34%). For Labour voters, a full 77% believe climate change is not being taken seriously enough, with only 23% seeing the risk to the UK as overstated.

    • Author: Redfield & Wilton
    • Date: 13th February 2024
    Opinion Insight 21st February 2024

    ECIU polling: more voters had heard about Labour’s green investment ‘U-turn’ than the policy itself

    In the wake of Labour’s announcement that their green investment pledge would be scaled back, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) commissioned snap polling from Opinium.

    Only 14% of people reported being ‘very aware’ of Labour’s (previously) proposed £28 billion a year investment plans. This is worth noting, as a significant amount of debate within green policy circles has focused on this specific number (but most of the public wasn’t aware of it in the first place).

    Roughly double the number of people (26%) said they were ‘very aware’ of the decision to reduce the £28 billion pledge, though, suggesting that for a significant number of people, the intense media debate around whether or not Labour would ‘U-turn’ would have been the first time they had encountered the policy.

    Read our analysis taking stock of what the policy shift from Labour is likely to have meant to voters here.

    Opinion Insight 12th February 2024

    Global study shows climate perception gaps are prevalent around the world

    A new survey of nearly 130,000 people across 125 countries has found that there is widespread support for climate action around the world. But, people often don’t realise how much support there is.

    The open access article, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, presents new, large-scale evidence of a global mandate for climate action, while shining a light on the pervasiveness of climate ‘perception gaps’. The headline findings across the global dataset show that:

    • 89% demand intensified political action.
    • 86% endorse the pro-climate ‘social norm’ that people in their country should try to fight global warming. 
    • Strikingly, 69% of the global population expresses a willingness to contribute 1% of their personal income. 

    However, this ‘actual’ support for climate action was at a mismatch with what people ‘perceived’ the levels of support to be. Around the world, people “systematically underestimate the willingness of their fellow citizens to act”.

    And these discrepancies matter. If we don’t believe there’s a mandate for green policies, inertia slows the pace of the green transition. ‘Perception gaps’ like these have consequences.

    • Source: Nature
    • Authors: Peter Andre, Teodora Boneva, Felix Chopra & Armin Falk
    • Date: 9th February 2024
    Opinion Insight 8th February 2024

    YouGov polling: Labour voters see government U-turns as a bad sign

    YouGov tracker polling from February 2024 shows the British public have a mixed response to governments announcing policy U-turns, with roughly even numbers overall saying it’s ‘a good sign – showing they are willing to listen and change their minds when people complain or situations change’ (36%), and saying it’s ‘a bad sign – showing they are incompetent, weak, or have not thought their policies through properly in advance’ (34%).

    There are differences between voters though: Conservatives are more likely to look favourably upon government U-turns, with 51% seeing U-turns as a good thing. Those intending to vote Labour tend to lean the other way, with 41% opposing them.

    In the context of the Labour Party’s announcement it will drop its prior commitment to spending £28 billion a year on green investment, Labour voters are unlikely to support it if they view it as a U-turn.

    Opinion Insight 18th January 2024

    Survey: Knowing someone with a heat pump increases support

    In a survey of 2000 people, researchers at Cardiff and Bath universities explored public support for low carbon heating technologies (including heat pumps), and the factors that influence this support.

    The survey found the majority of the respondents had at least a small amount of knowledge about low carbon heating options, and when provided with further information, held favourable views. Heat pumps (likely due to their prominence in policy discussions) were identified as the low carbon heating technology with the highest level of support.

    Concerns about energy security, and pro-environmental attitudes were two factors which led to higher support for heat pumps. But the research also uncovered another important driver: knowing someone who has already had one installed.

    Dubbed the ‘social circle effect’, people’s willingness to adopt low carbon heating options increased if they knew even one person who already had a heat pump.

    Opinion Insight 17th January 2024

    Differences in support for oil and gas track political divides

    A survey of 2000 people (in Novembers and December 2023) as part of the DeepDCarb project, has found mixed views on oil and gas expansion, and differences which track political divides.

    30% were opposed to ‘Issue licences to permit new oil and gas expansion’, 30% neither supported or opposed new licenses (or didn’t have an opinion), and a slightly higher number (41%) were in support.

    But bigger differences were apparent when the survey sample was split according to voting intention. Expansion was supported by two-thirds of both Conservative and Reform voters (and only opposed by one in ten), while Labour voters opposed expansion (41%) more often than they favoured it (34%). The majority of Green and SNP voters were opposed.

    The findings mirror Climate Barometer data showing clear divides between left and right-leaning voters on oil and gas. But they also reflect patterns in wider research on the transition away from oil and gas, which indicate strong support for moving away from fossil fuels, alongside a willingness to accept the near-term need for domestic oil and gas.

    • Source: UK in a changing Europe
    • Authors: John Kenny, Andy Jordan, Lucas Geese, Chantal Sullivan-Thomsett and Irene Lorenzoni
    • Date: 17th January 2024
    Opinion Insight 5th January 2024

    Research paper: Reducing inequality makes behaviour change for net zero more achievable

    In an open access research paper in the journal Nature Climate Change, Charlotte Kukowski and Emma Garnett argue that reducing inequality is not simply a positive ‘co-benefit’ of well-designed climate policies (although in a cost of living crisis, the affordability of green policies is a major consideration for voter support).

    Instead the authors argue that many of the behavioural changes necessary to reduce emissions from travel or food consumption are simply not possible where income inequalities remain high. The paper uses an example of rural/urban travel costs and rent prices to illustrate how it may be easier for wealthier citizens to make low carbon travel choices:

    While London boasts the cheapest bus fares and the most comprehensive public transport network in the UK, it also ranks highest for house prices and rents. Although rent and property prices can be lower in rural areas than in cities, the deregulation and subsequent privatization of the UK bus network in the 1980s have led to fare increases, a marked decrease in ridership, service fragmentation, increased car ownership and dependence, and transport-associated social exclusion, which disproportionately affect poorer citizens in rural communities

    The analysis and recommendations for addressing ‘carbon inequality’ offer a different way of thinking about the challenge of population-scale behaviour changes: many policies are not currently viewed as fair by the public in large part because they aren’t currently equally accessible to people across the income spectrum.

    The paper concludes that addressing general inequality, in turn makes behaviour change for net zero more feasible.

    Opinion Insight 15th November 2023

    Ipsos MORI polling ahead of COP28 shows limited public confidence that conference commitments will lead to climate action

    In polling commissioned by the Press Association, ahead of COP28 in Dubai, Ipsos MORI asked people whether they thought the commitments made at the event would lead to climate action.

    47% believed this was unlikely, whilst only 17% gave a more optimistic answer.

    These finding reflect a sense of cynicism that was present before last year’s event in Egypt (which Rishi Sunak eventually attended, but was criticised for initially avoiding), and strikingly low levels of trust in politicians on climate issues.

    To the extent that this level of detail registers with public audiences (the same IPSOS poll found only 32% will follow the news around COP28 closely this year, and 61% would not follow the event’s progress), the optics and contradictions of a city famous for its oil-wealth hosting the UN’s flagship climate event is also likely to be playing a role in muting public expectations about the credibility of the conference.

    • Source: The Independent
    • Author: Press Association/Ipsos MORI
    • Date: 3rd November 2023
    Opinion Insight 7th November 2023

    Conservative Environment Network polling: Widespread support for local green energy development

    Polling by Public First for the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) was carried out in 19 Conservative-held seats in the summer of 2023. The seats were selected for their proximity to existing or proposed major renewable energy developments in the East of England and Oxfordshire.

    While the majority would like to see green energy development and new housing in their local area, around a third of both Labour and Conservative voters chose renewable development over the building of new homes.

    76% of those surveyed said the rollout of renewable energy so far had been too slow, and 45% would ‘actively support’ or ‘not mind’ a wind farm being built within sight of a window in their home.

    The results underscore a growing body of evidence which shows – in national level polling, focus groups and constituency level polling – consistent support for building renewables. They stand in contrast to the perception held by Conservative MPs, which significantly overestimates the level of opposition among their own voters and the population more widely.

    Read more about ‘perception gaps’ in our Climate Barometer topic thread.

    Opinion Insight 27th October 2023

    Public First polling: Delays to net zero make a party less electable

    Based on a survey of 2000 people, Public First have argued that a turn against net zero is a risky political maneuver: by testing different combinations of policy propositions with voters (on the environment and more widely) they found that green investment is one of the most universally popular offers across the electorate, and that whilst anti net-zero sentiment doesn’t move the dial much for those who agree it, for those who oppose it, its a significant vote loser. Public First reports that:

    Increased investment in renewable sources and new taxes on the largest polluters in a wider policy platform makes a party 14% more electable

    Delaying net zero and continued oil and gas drilling in the North Sea in a wider policy platform makes a party 10% less electable

    Voters have genuine questions (and in some cases concerns) about how specific green policies will impact their personal finances and day-to-day lives. These questions should be taken seriously by campaigners and politicians alike to build public support.

    But as an electoral strategy, this research shows that reducing net zero ambition, backing away from green investment, and failing to hasten the transition away from fossil fuels are vote losers, rather than winners.

    • Source: Public First
    • Author: Seb Wride
    • Date: 26th October 2023
    Opinion Insight 23rd October 2023

    What explains the drop in Welsh support for 20mph speed limits, shortly after their introduction?

    Polling for WalesOnline by Redfield & Wilton shows a sharp rise in the proportion of people opposed to the new ‘default’ 20mph speed limits introduced on certain roads in Wales (where ‘cars mix with pedestrians’).

    Although introduced primarily for road-safety reasons, lower speed limits are one way in which air pollution from road traffic can be reduced, and 20mph limits are typically a feature of cleaner-air campaigns.

    Support in Wales has dropped across the board, but especially among Conservative voters following intense opposition by the Conservative Party (including organising a petition against the new law)

    This pattern is in contrast to the typical ‘Goodwin curve‘ of initial (pre-implementation) opposition softening into majority support once the new rules are in place.

    The strength of opposition from Conservative politicians in Cardiff suggests – as with the opposition to clean air zones seen among Conservative MPs in Westminster – that the opposition is partly about creating a political dividing line.

    But with a significant percentage of the Welsh public currently in opposition to the scheme, winning over the ‘Persuadables’ is more important than ever – something which ACT Climate Labs has issued recent guidance on around transport policies.

    Whilst the change may not currently be popular, driver behaviour showed immediate signs of positive change, with average speeds dropping in the first week of the policy’s implementation.

    • Source: Redfield and Wilton
    • Author: Redfield & Wilton Strategies
    • Date: 18th October 2023
    Opinion Insight 23rd October 2023

    Climate Citizens report: MPs underestimate the importance of the environment for voters

    The political mandate for climate action has strengthened over the past five years according to a report led by the Climate Citizens research group at Lancaster University. But the same report also notes there’s a belief among some MPs that climate concern is concentrated among middle-class and wealthier voters. One MP interviewed for the report said:

    If you’re struggling you’re not going to be thinking ‘has COP26 been of success or not?’ They don’t give a damn about offshore, onshore wind, that’s completely irrelevant to their lives.

    In fact, resources like Britain Talks Climate show climate change is important across social groups. And typically, the ‘loud minorities’ who oppose renewable energy projects are likely to be over-represented among wealthier constituents.

    Our Climate Barometer tracker data shows that MPs underestimate the salience of the environment for voters relative to other issues.

    Opinion Insight 17th October 2023

    Scrapping, banning or delaying? Why question wording matters for understanding opinion on net zero

    Scotland has a net zero policy framework that is more ambitious than the UK’s overall targets.

    Polling by PanelBase (commissioned by The Times) found Scottish public opinion on delaying the phase out of gas boilers and the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles was broadly in line with wider UK patterns, with support for delaying current heating targets slightly higher (45%) than opposition (38%), and support for delaying the petrol/diesel vehicle phase out date higher (51%) than opposition (38%).

    The wording of the question participants were asked on gas boilers was, however, misleading, with people asked if they supported or opposed “Rishi Sunak’s decision to scrap the phasing out of gas boilers?”

    The policy has not been scrapped – the phase out date has been extended.

    Combined with the ‘scrapping’ of policies that did not in fact exist in Sunak’s September speech (e.g. a ‘meat tax’), there’s a pattern of using terms like ‘ban’ ‘scrap’ and ‘phase out’ interchangeably in a way that’s likely to mislead voters, and in this case potentially skew assessments of public opinion.

    Climate Barometer tracker data provides a clear signal over time on key net zero policies like the phasing out of petrol/diesel vehicles and gas boilers.

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